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Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Nifong/Mangum Hoax — May 9, 2007

Updated - today's items:

Al Sharpton Will McKinley blog:
Thanks Al -- I would just like to take a moment to thank Al Sharpton.

From his triumphantly tracksuited days back in the '80s as Tawana Brawley's mouthpiece, to his hilarious efforts to publicly prosecute the Duke lacrosse players, to his hysterical on-air debate with Don Imus and his recent, knee-slapping remarks about Mitt Romney and God -- Al Sharpton has provided me with more than two decades of entertainment.

Thanks Al! Keep the laughs coming!

YouTube: Al Sharpton talks Tawana Brawley on Hardbal
Michael Gaynor:
John Stossel's "Myths, Lies and Downright Stupidity" and the Duke case -- We learned that young white scholar-athletes from well-to-do to wealthy (but out of state) families could be wrongly prosecuted in Durham, North Carolina by a political opportunist first-time political candidate desperate to win and convinced (rightly) that he could if he played the race card.

We learned that the political and criminal justice system in North Carolina permitted or facilitated the frame (a terrible shame) until the prosecution's concealment of exculpatory evidence was publicly exposed in open court and the North Carolina State Bar, the North Carolina Conference of District Attorneys and North Carolina Governor Michael Easley decided that waiting for the Duke case to be tried and remaining silent was unwise.

We learned that the Durham Police Department and the Durham County District Attorney's Office served Mr. Nifong instead of justice...
John in Carolina:
Comments Responding To Prof. Chafe -- an excellent example of what many bloggers are talking about when we say to folks in the Group of 88 and others at Duke: “Most people commenting on the statement do so civilly and to serious purpose...

My concern re: faculty silence in the face of “Castrate” banner and rally, “Vigilante” posters, threats to Seligmann, and trashing by many in media of Women Laxers for simply saying, “Innocent.” ...

Nancy GraceWRAL:
Nancy Grace to End Show on Court TV -- Nancy Grace is ending her justice-themed interview and debate show, "Nancy Grace: Closing Arguments," on Court TV after 10 years with the network.

"Court TV will always hold a special place in my heart, and I will always look back at my time there with great gratitude and affection," she said Wednesday in a statement.

Grace said she is leaving Court TV to focus on her legal analysis program, "Nancy Grace," on CNN Headline News and on her charitable endeavors.

Before joining Court TV, she was a special prosecutor in the Fulton County District Attorney's Office, where she worked felony cases involving serial murder, rape, child molestation and arson.

Over the years, Grace has become known for sparking controversy on the show, including high-profile cases such as the Duke University rape scandal, the search for Natalee Holloway and the Scott Peterson trial...
LS forum: Nancy Grace's show bites the Dust
Editiorial, Winston-Salem Journal:
Withholding Evidence -- It hasn’t been long since Attorney General Roy Cooper ended the yearlong ordeal of three Duke lacrosse players wrongly accused of rape. Yet, the state’s district attorneys want to change the discovery law that helped defense lawyers show that the state had no case against the young men.

The General Assembly should kill the bill and refer prosecutor complaints to a standing study committee, which can independently research whether the discovery law has any serious flaws.

Under a three-year-old North Carolina law, district attorneys are required to share evidence with the defense. The law stems from the wrongful prosecution of a number of North Carolina cases in which prosecutors held back exculpatory evidence — that is, evidence that indicated that the defendants were innocent...

Prosecutors lost their argument three years ago. Without presentation of an overwhelming body of evidence that shows this law is not working, their appeal of the legislature’s earlier decision should be denied.
Editorial, Charlotte Observer:
Do it right -- No need to rush revision of state's `open discovery' law -- anyone wonders why the N.C. General Assembly should be cautious about revising its 2004 "open discovery" law requiring prosecutors to share their files with defense lawyers, here are a few reasons: Darryl Hunt. Alan Gell. And Mike Nifong.

Had a strong open discovery law been in effect and fully implemented years earlier, Darryl Hunt might not have spent more than 18 years in prison for a murder he did not commit. Alan Gell might not have had to endure two trials and time on Death Row for a murder he did not commit.

And had the law not been in effect, Durham District Attorney Mike Nifong could have concealed information from an interview with the accuser by an investigator in the Duke lacrosse case. Notes of that interview indicate she changed her story and wasn't certain a rape occurred. That information, the News & Observer reported, was a factor in the dismissal of rape charges against three Duke players.

These cases ought to remind legislators to be careful about making changes in a law that, unfortunately, North Carolina has shown it needs to protect the innocent from unscrupulous or incompetent prosecutors. The state criminal justice system has sent too many innocent people to prison in cases that sometimes involve prosecutorial misconduct. That's one reason the General Assembly has created a commission on actual innocence to provide a better way to examine credible claims of mistaken convictions...
Phillip Wood, LieStoppers:
Two More NC Newspapers Join Call to Prevent Legalized Nifonging -- Two additional North Carolina newspapers have joined the call to stop the North Carolina Conference of District Attorneys' attempt to encourage the North Carolina legislature to revise the state's open discovery statute. Earlier this week, the Wilmington Star and Raleigh's News & Observer harshly criticized the effort to legalize nifonging. Today, the Charlotte Observer and Winston-Salem Journal take a more moderate stance in editorials calling for the proposed bills to be defeated in favor of a careful review...

Not surprisingly, Durham's Herald-Sun remains silent on the issue after having enthusiastically encouraged Defendant Mike Nifong's campaign to defy the state's open discovery statute.
Serena SebringSerena Sebring, comment at KC Johnson's Durham in Wonderland blog:
Serena Sebring said... KC -- This...

In this week's humor category, Ubuntu, the group co-founded by potbanger and Duke graduate student Serena Sebring, held a "National Day of Truthtelling" in Durham last week. The Orwellian call was not to demand "truth" from the DA's office, or the Police Department, or Bob Ashley's newsroom, but instead to suggest that the "truth" had not been exposed in the lacrosse case. As a Liestoppers commenter noted, a video of the event needs to be seen to be believed.

...is both mean-spirited and packed with inaccurate statements. While I am flattered that you seem to find me important enough to repeatedly comment on, your information is nearly 100% wrong...

While the utility of correcting all of this is questionable - since I am sure you will either ignore my comment, or find a way to still count me as among the 'enablers' or 'pot-stirrers' or people who are otherwise wrong - I wanted to at least make an effort to speak on my own behalf.
KC Johnson:
Serena and the Potbangers -- One of the best posts of the case came last November, as Liestoppers explained how the seemingly “spontaneous” protests that emerged in Durham last March were anything but. Instead, a group of professional protesters merged with Trinity Park residents who didn’t like Duke students to create the potbangers—the extremist anti-lacrosse activists who dominated the media for several days last spring, as they carried banners reading “Castrate” and signs demanding “Time to Confess.”

Duke graduate student Serena Sebring, who helped organize many of these protests, recently denied that she should be termed a “potbanger”—because a scheduling commitment prevented her from attending the pots-and-pans March 26, 2006 rally...

Sebring’s [potbanging/enabling] record was second to none: indeed, for a 10-day period in late March and early April 2006, she was a ubiquitous media presence. At the potbangers’ March 27 protest, she urged Duke students and professors to confront the lacrosse players in the classroom: “If you see them in class, ask them who did this.” On March 30, she wrote that “‘innocent until proven guilty’ does not mean that there was no crime. There is ample evidence of assault, even if we don’t yet have charges against specific perpetrators.” She added that she found “DA Mike Nifong and police Cpl. Addison pretty credible,” and dismissed “rumors that some members of the team cooperated early on.”

Creating A World Without Sexual ViolenceThrough Castration -- [photo essay]

National Day of Truthtelling boogieYouTube:
Litany for Survival -- [National Day of Truthtelling performance piece]

LS forum: New UBUNTU Video, Hysterical

LS forum: Serena Sebring -- Disingenuous, indeed. And how does the fact that the event was planned before the charges were dropped prove that the "Day of Truthtelling" was not a response to the lacrosse case? Since the event was planned while the case was in full swing, it's even more clear that Crystal Mangum's pretend rape was its jumping-off point. The real "truth" here is that the "Day of Truthtelling" was planned back in January when lots of people still thought Crystal Mangum had been raped by the lacrosse players. Once the charges were dropped, the organizers went forward with the event anyway, suddenly pretending it was meant as some kind of general comment on rape, and not specific to the lacrosse case. It's just CYA in case someone feels like reminding them that slander is punishable. This is the same tactic the Group of 88 has used to defend the signing of the "listening statement."
Evan R. Goldstein, The Chronicle of Higher Education (sub. required):
DECONSTRUCT THIS -- The Power of the Prosecutor -- Last month the attorney general of North Carolina, Roy A. Cooper III, announced that he was dismissing all charges against three Duke University lacrosse players who had been charged last year with raping a stripper. Publicly rebuking Michael B. Nifong, the district attorney of Durham County, as a "rogue prosecutor," Cooper called the cases "the result of a tragic rush to accuse and a failure to verify serious allegations."

To many observers, the Duke case highlights the extent to which the legal system empowers prosecutors to overreach. A new book by Angela J. Davis is likely to add fuel to the discussion. "Prosecutors are the most powerful officials in the criminal-justice system," she writes in Arbitrary Justice: the Power of the American Prosecutor (Oxford University Press, 2007). "Their routine, everyday decisions control the direction and outcome of criminal cases and have greater impact and more serious consequences than those of any other criminal-justice official." In an interview, Ms. Davis explained why...
John in Carolina [health care professional trained at DU and DUMC]:
KC's Levicy Posts: Some Reactions (Post 2) -- No sane HCP [Health Care Professional] wants an attorney looking over her/his shoulder during service delivery. But when an investigator or attorney is looking at what a HCP did and asking questions, the sane HCP welcomes an attorney at her/his side.

The most competent HCPs I’ve known who became involved in investigative or adversarial proceedings have wanted an attorney “there” working with the HCP, but not because the HCP wanted to CYA.

In my experience, competent HCPs have wanted an attorney “there” in order to be sure they could accurately provide data and not be intimidated or become confused when recounting service delivery, etc.
John in Carolina:
“KC’s Levicy Post: Some Reactions (Post 1) -- “Don’t ever speak to police or attorneys without the chart at hand. And then, for God’s sake, don’t ‘go off the chart’ and start talking about things that aren’t there. Best practice: before speaking with police or attorneys, ask your supervisor to review the chart. Review with your supervisor everything on the chart you were responsible for or signed off on. Ask also about reviewing what you’ll be saying with an attorney employed by your institution . ”

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